The period after the Prelims is of paramount importance for clearing the Mains. For best results, one must start their Mains preparation right after the Prelims, without any delay. Even if you are unsure of your result, it is unwise to wait for it as precious time is lost, considering that less than three months are available for Mains. The following are the nine papers of the UPSC Main Exam: Essay, General Studies Papers I, II, III, and IV, and Optional Papers I and II (these are considered for the final ranking), Paper-A Compulsory Indian Language and Paper-B English (these are qualifying papers).
How to Approach Mains?
Make sure that you are well versed in the syllabus. Click here to read the complete syllabus of UPSC Mains and go through these areas to accustom yourself to what you are comfortable and not comfortable with. Then, start making notes/materials for each of these areas to have enough content when the questions from these areas are asked. Following this method will serve as a solid foundation for both the static and current affairs part of the preparation. Complement this with good current affairs material to be on top of your game and have enough data, linkages, dimensions, etc., for your Mains answer.
Along with this, start taking Mock Tests to get the basics of answer writing correct and, with regular writing, get the best marks in Mains. Do not worry about the marks you get in the mocks, but rather focus on the comments that experienced evaluators give for each answer you write. The trick here is to go through these comments, make changes accordingly, and improve your game rather than mindlessly studying unwanted things. Click here to register for our Mains Program for GS, Essay and Optional (encompassing evaluation and crash course classes). Please make use of this initiative. We do not wish to charge for our efforts so that every deserving candidate gets a fair chance for an Interview.
Also, make sure that you give ample time for the marks scoring subjects like the Essay, GS4 (Ethics paper) etc. For the essay, go through the previous years’ papers to understand the overall theme of how the questions are asked. For the Mains exam, two essays are asked and lately, one of the essays is being asked with a philosophical nature. Writing practice is a must for mastering essays, and an aspirant must write at least ten to fifteen essays before they go for Mains. Kindly practice as many themes as possible to get the best marks in essays.
Another area where you should concentrate your effort is your Optional. As prelims GS usually has a minimal presence of your optional subject (also depending on the optional you chose), you might be out of touch as you have been aggressively preparing for Prelims all these days. As your optional subject is of 500 marks, kindly make sure that you allocate more time for your Optional than GS. For this, go through the previous years’ questions and understand the nature of the questions asked. Along with this, attend mock tests that resonate with the quality of the UPSC standard and get it evaluated by experienced persons.
There are also two compulsory papers that are of qualifying nature- The English language paper and one Indian language paper. Though rare, there have been instances of candidates failing the compulsory papers. Hence I request every aspirant to go through the old questions papers to ensure that you meet the qualifying marks in these two compulsory papers.
Even if you have not started your preparation for Mains, I strongly urge every aspirant to begin as soon as possible. Do not worry about the time that was lost. Instead, make use of every minute that is in front of you. My best wishes!